“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
These Scripture verses from the Epistle to the Romans are a continuation of the preceding verses where the Apostle cries out: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” In chapter eight we read that those are free who are in Christ Jesus. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus makes us free from the law of sin and death. The process of our deliverance in every new situation is accomplished again and again only in Christ Jesus.
The law of sin is a machine against which we are powerless relying on our human efforts. The law of the Spirit of life works in those who “walk according to the Spirit of God rather than according to the flesh” (Rom 8:1).
We who have believed in Christ have begun to serve the law of God with our mind. Original sin, the source of evil in us, however, causes inward conflict. Even if we want to do good, we do evil. Why? Because our conscience has not been purified and because we do not abide in active union with Christ through the obedience of faith. That is why the law of the Spirit of life cannot work in us and through us. But the law of sin works automatically. We are convinced that when we pursue our own good and our own truth, it is God’s will! But it is not always so. In order to do the will of God, a Christian must enter into Christ’s death by faith. What does it mean? At the cost of renouncing his good will and his truth, he allows God’s Spirit to work. Unless a Christian learns to renounce his own will or, in other words, unless he practises it in interior prayer, he is unable to act correctly in different situations. It is similar to an athlete who wants to win without training. It will be the same with us if we replace interior prayer with mere theorizing about the Holy Scripture or about the quotes of the saints.
The principle of renouncing our will is necessary not only in relation to God but also in interpersonal relationships. Two people, for example husband and wife, cannot be in unity if both of them stubbornly insist on their own truth and their own good. It always provokes a conflict, small or great. Neither of them is willing to give in for the sake of their common good.
If at the moment of trial and decision-making we enter into unity with Christ through active faith and watchfulness, the law of the Spirit works and we win. If we are in our self and only rely on our own efforts, we lose as the law of sin and death works here.
These two conflicting laws – the law of the Spirit and the law of sin – cannot work simultaneously. Only one of them can work. If we are in our self – ego, it is the law of sin that works rather than the law of the Spirit of God. But if we are in Christ by faith, the law of the Spirit works and the law of sin is inactive.
We live in time. Through physical death we enter into eternity. The Apostle reminds us: “Redeem the time!” How should we redeem it? By walking in faith, i.e. in the Spirit of God, and thus abiding in Christ. Those who abide in their self, i.e. in their intellect, in their will and in their feelings, are under the law of sin. Those who are in Christ Jesus are not under the law of sin. The secret of a victorious life in time of trial is to enter into Christ by faith and to abide in Him. If you lose union with Christ, you yield to the law of sin and commit a sin. What to do? Become aware of your wretchedness and repent at once. How? Stand in spirit by the cross of Christ and confess your sin. Receive forgiveness by faith in the power of the Blood of Christ. This is the first step. But you are still not in Christ Jesus. You must unite to the crucified Christ through faith by surrendering your will to Him. And then the law of the Spirit works. At that moment you cannot sin because by your will you are fully united to Christ’s death through which He has overcome the power of sin also in you.
We have this treasure, which is Christ in us, in earthen vessels. Therefore we need humility, watchfulness and prudence. There is a fight going on; “therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1Cor 10:12). We fall because we are deceived by our own corrupt nature, i.e. by the flesh, by demons and by the spirit of the world. Why do they deceive us? Because they want us to lose our communion with Christ. Therefore we must keep our eyes on our last goal, which is the salvation of our own soul. We know neither the day nor the hour of our death; therefore we must be always ready, as Jesus Himself tells us. Let us not lose heart because of our disappointments or failures, but let us learn the wisdom of life.
For example: A Christian woman has frequent conflicts with her neighbour. Again and again, she makes a resolution not to quarrel with her. But she fails in every new situation. She does not want to quarrel with her, tries her best, serves the law of God with her mind, and conscience tells her that it is wrong to quarrel. She does not want to do so, but she always breaks her resolution. Why? Because she serves the law of sin with her flesh, i.e. with her ego. The first stage of humility is at least to admit that it is true. This is the first step on the way of deliverance. What to do next? She must make a breakthrough in prayer in this relationship to her neighbour and put the relationship to Jesus higher than personal bitterness. God will then enlighten her. Maybe the cause of her neighbour’s anger is that she did her wrong in the past which she was not even aware of before the prayer. Perhaps she provoked her by her pride or disregard. So she must know that she suffers justly for her sinfulness and that her neighbour is right to some extent, though not in every way. She has to resolve that next time when her neighbour gives vent to her emotions and blames her unfairly, she will turn off the defence mechanism of her ego and patiently endure humiliation for the sake of Jesus. At this critical moment, she will try to think of the sufferings of Jesus. She will be with Him and think in spirit about His humiliation and pain which she caused Him by her sins in the past. At that moment, she will view the humiliation suffered from her neighbour as a just purgatory for her past sins. She sees in spirit Jesus scourged, crowned with thorns, covered with spittle and mocked. She is self-critically aware that the suffering of Jesus was innocent but not so hers. She now suffers for her past sins. But she unites her pain and humiliation with the pain of Jesus. Then she will not respond to her neighbour’s words in self-defence, nor with self-pity, hatred or vengeance. If she stands in union with Christ and at the same time in humility towards her neighbour, she will overcome and will also help her neighbour to overcome and establish friendly relations. It is then not hard for her to apologize. This principle is in the spirit of the Gospel of Christ. Settling a conflict in this way means walking in the Spirit of God, and it is connected with victory over the law of sin.
The spirit of the world and liberal Christianity reject deliverance in Christ. They deny sin as well as God’s commandments and remove the conflict between the two by falsely calling sin love, mercy or tolerance. And this is deceit. They thus oppose the Gospel and the Spirit of truth.
The conditions for walking in the Spirit are as follows:
1) personal prayer, the minimum is one hour daily. A tithe of time, however, is two and a half hours. Apart from one hour of personal prayer, it includes the holy hour in the family circle from 8 to 9 pm and half an hour of seven prayer stops during the day.
2) It is necessary to celebrate Sunday, the Lord’s Day, when we commemorate the Resurrection of Christ and the Descent of the Holy Spirit. On this day, we also take part in fellowship (Acts 2:42).
3) Every month men should observe a day of penance. They would have an opportunity for prayer in common as well as for personal testimonies from the life of faith. It would also create favourable conditions for the preaching of God’s Word with an emphasis on repentance and men could receive the sacrament of penance. This is the true fulfilment of the biblical new moon for these times as well as for so-called First Saturdays.
Remember that without repentance and prayer even the best advice of the Fathers of the Church or the promises of the Scriptures will be ineffective for you.